¡Poco a Poco!

Whenever you find yourself packing for a trip or planning an international move, things may get stressful. It seems that the closer we get to our relaxation destination, the more we invite last-minute stress and fast-paced experiences.

Then, you arrive in Guatemala! You may find that your stress starts experiencing “culture shock.” We smile as we are writing this, remembering our own arrival and the anticipation of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Moving here is truly an adventure. Most people enter their new environment with the perspectives of their former culture of residence. We certainly brought our ideas about daily pace and quickly discovered that they were in direct contrast to the typical Guatemalan lifestyle.

Building our hotel at Lake Atitlán and remodeling a home in La Antigua Guatemala quickly educated us that our idea of schedules and construction sequences needed to shift. Workers here adjust their expectations according to the rainfall and the arrival of materials, not a theoretical vision for a day’s work. At the end of the day we would have a conversation with our workers that usually ended with a smile and the phrase, poco a poco.

At first we really did not embrace the beauty of this powerful phrase, nor did we recognize that it is more than just words. Poco a poco is a wise philosophy of living that invites an appreciation for each day, a recognition that any progress is good progress, because it is a step in the right direction. This is a dramatically different orientation than the typical fast-paced lifestyle that so many of us have embraced as normal.

As each year passed we discovered that the seasons of Guatemala and the natural ease that people offer to each other through smiles and conversation are an extension of the poco a poco experience. To recognize progress in our lives and in our personal goals, is to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Poco a poco offers us the opportunity to witness the positive and have more of a “the cup is half full” experience.

Here we are in August, and you have chosen to be in a country filled with beauty and culture. During rainy season poco a poco takes on an expanded richness in its meaning. Most likely you will experience a lovely morning followed by a dependably cool or rainy afternoon. Sometimes afternoon rains create mudslides on the roads, bringing a call to patience. Allowing yourself to pace your journey, poco a poco with the natural rhythm of the season, will open you to a depth of exploration that you may not have otherwise embraced.

Little by little does not mean it won’t get done; it does offer you the opportunity to see the greater picture. Cultivating a more spacious perspective invites your body to release accumulated stress. Remember, stress is mostly a perspective, an expectation that things should be different. When we open up to the relaxed view of poco a poco, especially when traveling, we learn more, we see more, we become more.

Arriving in Guatemala will always offer something unique to each person. This is the “x-factor” that shifts an ordinary journey into an extraordinary experience. The moment when you allow yourself the relaxation into your own journey of the poco a poco experience, you will start to recognize the joy of being, the peace that resides in our center.

You chose to be here for reasons beyond the agenda. While you are here why not maximize your time and try a simple local philosophy? In so doing you may discover that you are cultivating a new way of thinking, an expanded perception and a smile that comes from within.
Poco a poco might be the souvenir that you bring home with you that continues to enrich your life long after Guatemala becomes just a good memory.


  • catherine todd

    Excellent article – gracias for the reminder.

  • Catherine King

    Having just arrived in Guatemala on a two year posting, your article could not have come at a better time. I was feeling very stressed trying to understand the city, the culture and of course my new job. Your article helped me to remember that I will understand it all, in time, a little at a time.

    Thank you for the reminder 🙂

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